It’s no secret that having healthy habits is key to optimal physical health. But, you may be surprised to learn that some seemingly harmless habits can be major risks for your heart health. We’re here to break down the top ten habits that you should avoid if you want to keep your heart in tip-top shape. So, buckle up and read on to learn more about the common practices that may be putting your cardiovascular system at risk.
1. Breaking Bad Habits: Major Risks to Your Heart
Unhealthy Habits Can Take a Toll on Your Heart
Research suggests that bad habits can have a major impact on the health of our heart. Consider the following:
- Unhealthy diets, such as those high in fats, processed foods, and refined sugar – can contribute to cardiovascular disease.
- Smoking can lead to coronary artery and heart valve damage.
- Alcohol consumption can lead to an irregular heartbeat or high blood pressure.
- Physical inactivity can contribute to the buildup of plague in the arteries.
The list of long-term risks from bad habits is a long one, including an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other serious health risks. In fact, one study suggests that unhealthy lifestyle habits can raise the risk of death from all causes by nearly 25%. So, if you’re serious about protecting your heart health, it’s essential to break those bad habits and replace them with healthier ones.
Making healthy lifestyle changes, such as serving more fruits and vegetables, limiting unhealthy snacks, adding regular exercise, and quitting smoking can have a major impact on your heart health. A little effort can go a long way towards protecting your heart health and allowing you to lead a longer, healthier life.
2. Warning Signs: 10 Habits to Avoid for a Healthy Heart
Your heart is at the center of your being—literally and figuratively. This intricate organ sets the tempo for your physical and mental health. That’s why it’s important to know the warning signs of unhealthy habits that can take a toll on your heart. Here are ten habits to avoid to live your life with a healthy heart:
- Don’t smoke – cigarette smoke clogs your arteries and overworks your heart.
- Don’t eat too much salty food – processed and fried foods contain high amounts of salt, and an excess of salt can easily cause high blood pressure.
- Don’t eat too much unhealthy fat – saturated and trans fats can increase the levels of bad cholesterol in your system.
- Don’t drink too much alcohol – alcohol can take a toll on your liver and your heart.
Inactivity is another big threat to your heart’s health. Sitting on the couch all day turns the volume down on your cardiovascular system. From your circulatory system to your immune system to your mental health, staying active supports healthy organs and processes. Make sure to balance your resting with plenty of physical activity. This doesn’t mean that you have to hit the treadmill on a daily basis; a simple walk or a bike ride to the store can make a world of difference.
3. Protect Your Heart: Simple Steps for a Stronger Heart
A healthy heart is essential for living a full and vibrant life, and there are a few simple steps we can take to better support our heart health. Here are three easy actions to add to your routine:
- Make physical activity part of your daily routine: take a walk, do yoga, or ride a bike.
- Choose activities that you enjoy and keep the momentum going to create a regular habit.
- Start small and be consistent by moving your body most days of the week.
- taking regular breaks throughout the day to engage in calming activities can help greatly.
- Just get outside and take a few deep breaths can help to reduce stress.
- Reducing your exposure to stress can help support heart health in the long-term.
- Fuel up with a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.
- Choose healthy fats, such as nuts and avocado – your heart will thank you for it!
- Limit your intake of processed foods, which are typically loaded with unhealthy fats, added sugar and salt.
By incorporating these simple habits into our daily routines, we can keep our heart healthy and strong.
4. Knowing When Risky Behaviors May Impact Heart Health
Most people intuitively understand that taking risks with heart health related behavior is not a good idea. However, it is sometimes difficult to know when the risks may be greater. To help recognize risky behaviors, here are four common examples you should be aware of:
- Inactivity: Not getting enough exercise or engaging in physical activity puts too much strain on your cardiovascular system.
- Unhealthy Eating: A diet that is high in cholesterol and fat can put you at risk of developing heart disease and stroke.
- Smoking and Drinking: Both smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can cause changes in the structure and function of your heart.
- Stress: Having too much stress for too long can lead to an abnormal heartbeat and can cause other issues with your heart.
If you engage in risky behaviors related to heart health, be aware of the signs and symptoms that could indicate you are doing harm to your heart. Shortness of breath, chest pain, excessive fatigue, dizziness, and rapid heartbeat are all warning signs that should prompt you to seek medical attention.
Heart disease can lead to major, avoidable health complications if not managed properly. Following these 10 habits can be the first line of defense against a lifetime of poor heart health. Start small by making a few changes in your life and increasing awareness about the risks associated with heart disease. By taking the steps towards better heart health today, you are setting yourself up to live a long and healthy life.